Director: Jean-Claude Lord
Screenplay: Edith Rey, David Preston
Cast: David McIlwraith, Teri Austin, Richard Cox, Pam Grier, Maury Chaykin
Producers: Don Carmody, Pierre David, John Dunning, André Link
Print Source: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation
Scientist Carl Lehman (David McIlwraith) is having a bad day. He loses his lab funding, is apparently killed in a horrific explosion engineered by his megalomaniacal boss Alex Whyte (Richard Cox) and then has his still-functioning brain dropped into an experimental cyborg unit clad in a gold lamé spacesuit. Only this is no ordinary super-strong, invincible robot body. Whenever anyone gets too close, the suit’s self-preservation circuitry triggers a violent rage in Carl that only stops when the threat is destroyed. When RoboCarl wakes up and discovers he’s become the cruel victim of his colleagues’ little experiment, he escapes and stalks the sewers, enacting revenge on those that turned him into a walking soft-drink can with anger-management issues — and any other street punks foolish enough to get in his way.
Half-man, half-machine, but all Canadian sci-fi cheese — the Vindicator is once again ready to stalk the corrupt, crime-ridden streets of Montreal! Produced by Cinépix founders John Dunning and André Link, THE VINDICATOR is a heady hybrid of sci-fi, action and horror that could have only come from the deepest recesses of the tax-shelter era. Exploitation icon Pam Grier has a nice role as a no-nonsense bounty hunter hired to bring Carl back under his employer’s control, but even she’s almost overshadowed by stalwart Canadian character actor Maury Chaykin, pitch perfect as Carl’s sleazy co-worker who may be feeling just a little too protective towards his ex-lab partner’s pregnant wife — especially in one of the film’s most shocking scenes.
One of Dunning and Link's few excursions into the sci-fi genre, following 1983's 3D-craze cash-in SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE, THE VINDICATOR shares some of ROBOCOP’s themes and trashy comic-book aesthetic, even though it predates Paul Verhoeven’s classic by several years. Instead, director Jean-Claude Lord, fresh from his duties on the nerve-wracking hospital slasher VISITING HOURS, offers a clever, computerized update of FRANKENSTEIN, a classic cinema monster-piece that he references several times over the course of the story. There are the expected scenes of a confused Carl trying to regain his humanity, but ultimately THE VINDICATOR is less interested in heavy dramatic statements than it is cranked-up B-movie theatrics—acid-shooting guns, mangled faces, bloody car-crushing action and, of course, robot fistfights. Featuring a lo-tech, battle-worn cyborg design from the legendary Stan Winston Studios, THE VINDICATOR is one of the best and biggest-budgeted Canadian science-fiction efforts of the 1980s.